French’s work is laden with Satanic iconography and when looking at it, you’d probably wonder what he’s like in person. His pieces are intricate pen and ink works on paper, an exploration of evil and the occult, which, according to the UK artist, is just the other side of the equation. In reality, he’s neither a satanist nor a christian, more a non-believer whose work merely tells the story from another perspective.
How do you find Australia?
It’s just such a fucking cool place. It seems like there’s such an opportunity for young people to do things. Young people do shit. In England people are like ‘I can’t afford it,’ or ‘what if this happens?’
Maybe it’s the weather, but people seem to get up earlier here, like they wanna get more out of the day.
In England, young people won’t get up before nine. Here they get up at six and work all day and then go out at night, it’s like when do you sleep?
There are a lot of darker themes in your work—skulls and goats’ heads. What can you tell me about that?
I have got quite an obsession with the occult and with paganism. All that old folklore in England. I guess I also like heavy metal or anything that is a bit weird.
My girlfriend got me a book from the Salvos here called The Black Arts. It’s really cool, that mythology. I read a cool one today. There’s this thing that says if you want to become a witch you have to have sex on one of your ancestor’s graves, three nights in a row on a full moon. And the dude is not allowed to enjoy it.
That’s because for everything there has to be an opposite. Love and hate, dark and light, pleasure and pain.
That’s why I think Christianity is bollocks, being all about love. It’s not human nature to love all the time.
So I thought that was cool—that kind of stuff inspires me!
What about from a spiritual or religious perspective?
I don’t believe in fuck all mate. I’m just interested in it. I guess everyone likes a bad guy as well. Everything you look at, you always wanna be the bad guy. They have the better outfits, the better customs. Like Satan, Satan is way cooler than God.
Who is your favourite artist?
Aubrey Beardsley is pretty fucking rad. I really like John Martin, the old painter. He painted these crazy scenes of the end of the world. Now they look like 1970s pictures of space.
Obviously I like Puss Head and all that skate art stuff. Jim Phillips. Metal album covers! All the old ones, they guys who did the Monstrosity album covers.
Who is your favourite skater?
Fuck that’s hard. When I was a kid I was really into Corey Chrysler and Nick Foster, they had a joint section on the Bunker video. I saw it and thought it was ok to be into metal and not into clean-cut skateboarding. It’s ok to fuck about and be a dirtbag.
People like Wade Spayer and Allen Peterson, guys that just went fast. I really like that Callum Paul dude. He has got a fucking good section on some video. He’s out there, he’s off the charts…anyone who is a bit different and a bit sketchy and goes pretty fast!
Art and skateboarding have always been pretty close, do you think there is a correlation there, creatively?
There’s gonna be. A lot of people have done that, and started getting their shit in galleries. There’s definitely a crossover there.
So you grew up in Aldershot. What the art/skate scene like there?
Fucked. There is no art scene in Aldershot. Oh actually, there is an art college in the next town. It used to be good but I dunno what it’s like now.
The skate scene is alright. It’s all older guys. I was 11 or 12 when I started skating. The closest to my age would’ve been 18. They were pretty cool. I got taken to the pub when I was like 13, 14. Around my age there was one dude who skated, but he was kind of a cock.
How did you get from there to where you are now?
Fuck knows. I went to university and I studied fine art. I was just super into metal and skateboarding and used to draw loads of pictures. I kinda had half the skills I have now and then I just learnt to draw properly.
I came out here and had a residency at a private school in Orange. I went down to Sydney every weekend to go skating. I worked in a skate shop and just made my own artwork.
I made a little folio and I would just send them to people. Friends, magazines, record companies. Gradually people started giving me work. I’m kinda wondering when it’s gonna stop. Haha.